Saturday, April 29, 2017

Protest, Music, Youth Culture And Resistance Here In Salem-Woodburn As We Come To May Day

Photo from Ramon Ramirez

We have many efforts underway as we arrive at May Day. I want to remind everyone in our region that the May Day rally in Salem will begin at the State Capitol at 11:30 AM on Monday. This rally and march are sponsored by Causa and many other groups and unions, including Oregon Socialist Renewal. Holding the rally and march on a working day challenges all of us to be real and transparent about being anti-Trump, anti-racist and in support of immigrant rights. Please take at least a few hours away from work or school to join us in the streets in support of immigrant and worker rights and as a collective stand against fear and xenophobia.

Today's People's Climate March drew thousands of people in Portland and may have hit 200,000 people nationwide. The demonstrations gained their strength from the righteousness of the cause, but I believe that it was leadership and participation from people of color, women, youth and labor that gave life to the events in most areas. Real intersectionality helps to connect environmental and climate justice activism to the lived realities in our communities and to broader and long-range struggles and questions.

   Photo from Ramon Ramirez

Our numbers today only had to outshine Trump's numbers in Harrisburg, PA.---and they did. The President was forced to leave Washington in order to avoid another confrontation with the press and escaped to Harrisburg for a rally which gathered in less than 7000 people. And even at this pitiful rally Trump was not safe from disruption and had to use the Astroturf Bikers for Trump to maintain order at one point. (Bikers for Trump is administered by the Italian fascist George Guido Lombardi.) One expectation was that Trump would announce a U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA, or a plan to obstruct it. The expected announcement didn't happen because Trump was forced to cave on the issue, at least for the time being.

Perhaps the unreported story here is that Trump has yet to win on any issue which requires mobilization. He can sign executive orders, shuffle bureaucrats and hold much of his base in place, but he has not yet been able to break out of his isolation while he does great damage. Something like a liberal and left consensus exists which is keeping Trump's polling numbers low and forcing him to use the most authoritarian means he has at his immediate reach. This consensus is weak, contradictory, unorganized, spontaneous, largely grassroots driven, lacking needed tactics and strategies which unite our forces and reactive, but it exists and is remarkably resilient. It cannot hold, and it cannot go on the offense, but it reflects mass opposition to Trumpism at the base. It is surprising to some of us---and aggravating---that most left groups and media discount peoples' power now and remain focused on trying to work out (and are dividing over) precisely how class, race and gender played out last November instead.

If you live in the Mid-Willamette Valley and did not attend the People's Climate March today you may be canvassing this weekend for Levi Herrera-Lopez, Sheronne Blasi, Kathleen Harder in Salem or for Anthony Medina in Woodburn in the School Board elections. And if you aren't actively supporting them yet, please do. We got our ballots today and voted for Herrera-Lopez, Blasi and Harder because they are best equipped to move the Board forward in a period of budget crises and political struggles, because they have the more affirmative and scientific approaches to education, and because there is a need to block the right-wing and the hacks from undermining recent progress made at the Board level.

If you weren't canvassing, we hope that you attended the Beyond Toxics event at the farmworker housing center and/or the party at Shotski's in Salem tonight. The importance of the Beyond Toxics event was driven home to me on Thursday when I attended an OSHA hearing on pesticide drift and farmworkers in Tigard. The growers stubbornly refuse to acknowledge farmworkers as real people with will and agency, and they also refuse to take the kinds of actions needed to either prevent toxic drift or limit the damage that it does. The party at Shotski's was a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate Levi Herrera-Lopez's campaign and to hear from the gifted young musicians and artists from Woodburn and from the always-on-it Sam Davila, a compelling musician and singer and a great organizer besides.

The young people who performed at Shotski's sang and played from their hearts. Some of their music was overtly political---and we will again honor Marisol Ceballos here for her strength and artistry and the clarity of her political vision and for speaking at the Portland rally today---but much of it was also from-the-heart rock which speaks to the great mixing of class, gender, ethnicity and politics which gives the Woodburn movement its salsa. The young people who played tonight are redefining what was considered "rock" when I was in my teens, and they're doing better with it than we did. Their abilities speak to strong, perhaps unconscious, connections between race, class, gender, ethnicity and resistance. One talented young woman gave a flute solo which provided exactly the right mood and breathing space to take it all in. They're past the points of despair and pretended angst which was so popular back in the day. They're putting creativity to work in positive ways instead.

It's good to hear a cover of Aretha Franklin's "Respect" done by a young Latina fronting with a mostly-white young rock band. The song has always had that dual meaning: is she singing about a relationship or about a political demand? When a young Latina sings it with a Woodburn rock band the question is resolved and the medium for doing the song becomes the song's message. Sam and Marisol did overtly political music which brought the struggle home to us, but most of the music was indeed political given the times we live in, the energy of the youth and their willingness to struggle against racism, the backdrop for the event, the youth energy---and you know that extraordinary organizers like Marisol and Sam can help bring everyone along. These are our intellectuals, the people who refine and define our experiences and give them back to us as lived culture.

All of this is taking place as we face May Day on Monday. Workers' Memorial Day and an AFSCME rally in Salem yesterday moved labor forward just a bit by giving us the opportunity to remember our dead and fight for our living. We in the labor movement are not quite in synch with the social movements around us, but there is leadership at the base working in the right direction. It's possible to imagine and hope for a day when labor's base, the passion of the March for Science held last Saturday, leadership from young people of color, climate justice work, class struggle, progressive youth culture, Black and Brown and feminist and LQBTQIA+ liberation, and resistance to the right merge into a movement with a common front and generally shared radical goals.

This gives us two immediate goals. One is to build May Day in the time we have left between now and Monday at 11:30 AM. The other goal needs to be winning the local School Board elections by voting in Levi Herrera-Lopez, Sheronne Blasi, Kathleen Harder in Salem and Anthony Medina in Woodburn. We need to be in this for the long haul and for all of us.

Monday, May 1
11:30 AM
 State Capitol, Salem

Friday, April 28, 2017

Will AT&T workers strike?

A message this morning from the Communication Workers of America, my union, says in part:

This is not a drill. AT&T wireless workers have been fighting for months for a fair union contract that protects good, family-supporting jobs and we're more frustrated than ever. So frustrated, we just took a big step and gave our 72-hour notice to the company that we may walk out at anytime. That means we're one step closer to 21,000 workers in 36 states striking for good jobs.

Today, we're taking our fight straight to AT&T's shareholders at their annual meeting in Dallas. Hundreds protested this morning outside the event and we delivered the petition you and over 67,000 other concerned customers and community members signed.

Will you stand with us again today? Share this on social media to spread the word about our fight.

Last month, 17,000 AT&T landline workers on the West Coast - who've been working without a union contract for over a year now - walked off the job in a one-day strike. Following the news, AT&T's share price fell by 1%.*

We're not afraid to show our power to make sure AT&T stops taking advantage of working people. The company brings in $1 billion a month because of our hard work, but they keep offshoring more of our jobs out of the country and outsourcing operations to low-quality 3rd party dealers where customers regularly complain of deceptive sales practices.

If we strike, we'll let you know how you can help. In the meantime, thank you for your support and please show your support for our fight on social media.

In unity,
Dennis Trainor
Communications Workers of America

This news does indeed need to be shared, and the best source for up-to-date public information is here (Mobility) and here (Wireless press release). It's clear that a strike in the communications industry under Trump could be groundbreaking if it happens. 

An early video from CWA puts the issues in terms that most workers will understand:


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Indefinite Hunger Strike Protester Academic Nuriye Gülmen In Turkey---We Have An Update, We Need International Solidarity

We recently posted about Nuriye Gulmen in Turkey. She has become a symbol of civil disobedience and resistance to political repression under the state of emergency in Turkey. She is just one among more than 7,000 academics who have been sacked by the government with the state of emergency decrees without any proper investigation, but her case has special meaning. News accounts in the U.S. are focused on Trump and Erdogan and on the repression in Turkey, but few accounts give us a clear picture or the proper context to understand what's going on. Briefly put, Turkey's President Erdogan is using a coup attempt by a rival living in the U.S. to crack down on his rival's supporters and, more seriously, on the peoples' movements, unions, radical opposition and democratic Kurdish forces which are the real, genuine, progressive and democratic opposition. Our comrades had nothing to do with the coup or the rivalry between Erdogan and Fethullah Gülen.

It is important for us to support Nuriye Gulmen as a union sister, as an academic, as a radical democrat, as a woman, as a leftist, as a human being entitled to human rights.

Please see the important article about Nuriye Gulman here.

Death on the job in the United States

Burgerville Workers Union is holding their one-year anniversary event

Saturday, 8:00 PM - 12:00 AM
Cider Riot
80-7 NE Couch St.

From the Union:

The Burgerville Workers Union turns 1 year old this month! We have so much to celebrate and we want our friends and supporters to celebrate with us. Join us at Cider Riot on Saturday, April 29th for an evening of food, drinks, and music!

8:30 Laryssa
10:30 Husky Boys
11:00 Accepting songs requests for radical get down playlist

-This is an all ages event until 10:00pm
-Supervised kids room open from 8-10pm, please let us know if you plan to bring kids and their ages so we can plan ahead, contact with any questions
-Sliding scale donations at the door
-Food and drinks available for purchase
-The space is wheel chair accessible

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Reflection on the 'March for Science' and Scientific Literacy

With the recent ‘March for Science’ events over the weekend, there has been much talk in the left press about science, mostly relating to how this or that reactionary politician is anti-science. However, while many left writers make a great show of supporting science over rightist ignorance, scientific literacy on the left is actually quite lacking. It is clear that many on the left who write about science do not really understand it at all, particularly those writers that employ phrases such as “scientific consensus”, “the science is settled”, and the puerile “scientists say”; that is to say, nearly all of them. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what scientists say, it matters what the empirically valid, independently verifiable results of their experiments are. Science runs on the testing of hypotheses, not consensus, and it is certainly never settled. Even the law of gravitation, widely thought of as the most immutable of scientific laws, has undergone periodic testing and revision; the most notable instance being the advent of the theory of relativity, which led to the conclusion that gravity may not be a ‘force’ at all, but merely the observable effect of the warping of spacetime by mass. Conversely, the elusive graviton (force-carrying particle of gravity), were it ever found, would prove that gravity is indeed a true ‘force’ like the electromagnetic forces. If so fundamental a theory as that of gravity can be mutable, what, then of other, less well-tested theories? Leftists, especially Marxists, should strive not merely to know what “scientists say”, but to be able to critically assess, even if at a most basic level, scientific theories and arguments. Any scientific conclusion which resists such critical inquiry, whether via appeal to authority or other form of obfuscation, should be regarded as suspect. Marxists ought to have no ‘articles of faith’ on any topic, least of all the physical sciences. It is the material world that determines our ideology, never the other way round!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

CeCe McDonald, LGBTQ+ prison abolition activist, will speak in Corvallis on Wednesday, April. 26,

Wednesday, Apr. 26, 6pm - 8pm: CeCe McDonald Keynote
LaSells Stewart Center, 875 SW 26th St, Corvallis
CeCe McDonald, LGBTQ+ prison abolition activist, will be on campus to give a keynote address. Admission for this event is free and open to the public (no tickets or RSVP needed). Doors will open at 5:45pm.
This event was put together by: Rainbow Continuum, The Pride Center, The Office of Institutional Diversity, and SOL: LGBTQ+ Multicultural Support Network.

Note: the keynote and the workshop are two separate events happening at different times. To RSVP for the workshop please visit the event page here:

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Reflection On Salem's March For Science---Is Science A Liberal Conspiracy?

Photo from Facebook

Some of us attended Salem's March for Science today and participated in the rally and march. I came away hopeful, but with mixed feelings as well.

It seemed to me that much of the signage and the speeches were defensive and were attempting to put science above politics and lived human experience, as an academic experience rather than as a fruit of human labor, practice, critical thinking and passion. The mostly white crowd had no clear relationships to other struggles, and many people we encountered did not want to hear much about these struggles or about the all-important upcoming May Day rally and march. And holding any rally downtown on a weekend means that people who don't have cars can't attend, meaning that, say, people of color in northeast Salem can't participate.

On the other hand, if this wasn't a lead-up to May Day and engagement with immigrant rights struggles, it was a continuation of the spirit of the womens' marches, a first-time-out for many people, a strong show of indignation against the far-right, and evidence that a multigenerational movement is in place which is opposed to Trump and capable of countering the right-wing with facts and bodies. The march and rally were well-organized and drew in many people who are not a part of the local liberal and progressive circles. It was a family-friendly and comfortable event.

Prior to the march someone posted a piece on the organizing Facebook page by Neil deGrasse Tyson asking how it was that the U.S. moved from being a rural and slowly-developing society to an advanced industrial country and answering that this happened because of science. When you ask us the question we're more likely to answer that the U.S. became a world power through slavery, exploitation, war and imperialism. There is "science" to slavery, exploitation, war and imperialism, of course, but the capitalists took power first and then wrote the books after they were safely protected by state power.

I understand the defensive line which argues that science is not a liberal conspiracy. Trump and his supporters argue to the contrary, saying in effect that we have it all wrong and that we are being misled by alternate facts and bad science. In fact, the traditional far-right disdain for intellectuals continues and deepens ever day.

But it's also true that science is indeed a liberal (or radical) conspiracy of sorts. First Nations peoples, Africans, peoples from Asia and from the far reaches of Europe, and LGBTQIA+ people had good grasps of early scientific principles and practices. The destruction of their societies by kings and capitalists often destroyed much of this science or drove it underground, preventing it from reaching its full potential. The scientific method, which is at its heart dialectical and materialist, developed under conditions of oppression and implicitly opposed pre-feudal superstitions, the feudal aristocracies and the new capitalist bosses, pushing the bourgeois-democratic revolutions further than their leaderships wanted to go. Karl Marx and the best traditions within Marxism codified what the peoples of pre-feudal societies had developed and what later militant democrats had attempted into dialectical materialism, the scientific understanding of how the real world functions without abstraction. We understood from the earliest days of the socialist movement that we are a part of nature and that nature has a dialectic of which we are an expression. And dialectical materialism is indeed biased, as is all intellectual effort. Dialectical materialism is our science, the one we use effectively against Trump, fascism and the folks who are invested in obscuring the nature of real human progress and ecology.

Given the history of revolutionary movements, revolutionary science has indeed sometimes had to function as a conspiracy. The feudal powers were threatened by a science which posited that human power is its own end; likewise, the capitalists do everything to bury this fact. The capitalists understandably object to anything which argues from facts, observation and criticism that everything is in motion, that contradictory forces create movement and development, and that each new thing bears the traces of the old even as it exists as the new and will eventually give way to contradiction. After all, if this is applied scientifically to bourgeois relations the system will fall apart. The very method of observation, experimentation, critique and criticism, reexamination and critique threatens capitalism and fascism. It is anathema to Trump. The bourgeois governments and institutions lose patience with our insistence on the dialectical-scientific method and force us underground or to the margins. Only in socialist societies is science firmly established.

We ask our friends at the march to examine their notions from a scientific point of view, look at history scientifically, look at what the scientific method means to them in real terms, and to apply this to our resistance to Trump. In short, we ask them to be consciously on the anti-racist, anti-imperialist and class-struggle left.

“There is no royal road to science, and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits.”--Karl Marx

Today is Lenin's birthday. Let's celebrate it by marching for a scientific view of the world and of our struggles!

"Those who are really convinced that they have made progress in science would not demand freedom for the new views to continue side by side with the old, but the substitution of the new views for the old."---Lenin

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Leading up to May Day in Salem, May Day, and after May Day

Yesterday we had the Rally for Water and Wildlife in Salem and today we had the healthcare rally. There is the March for Science on Saturday, a DACA support event at Chemeketa Community College on the 26th, the Beyond Toxics community event on the 29th---and there is May Day.

May Day is all-important for us this year.

The beat goes on with the May 3 lobby day in support of Oregon's pending Fair Work Week legislation and the Cover All Kids lobby day on May 12. Meanwhile, local anti-racist and immigrant rights organizing is continuing. Causa is doing much-needed fundraising. Mano a Mano is doing the youth organizing and youth sex ed work. The next Racial Justice Organizing Committee meeting is on May 15. The NAACP meetings are now so large here that we are meeting in a new location at Chemeketa Community College. The School Board elections are the best opportunity we have right now to organize in our community, fight the far-right and elect 3 progressive people---Kathleen Harder, Sherrone Blasi and Levi Herrrera-Lopez. All three races need help, but Levi Herrrera-Lopez should get special attention, help and contributions.

Today's healthcare rally drew its strength from intersectionality: the emcee is a union activist who comes from the LGBTQIA+ and HIV-positive community and the speaker from the coalition working on getting all kids healthcare coverage made it all very real. Last night I attended an interesting meeting at a church in Woodburn concerned with how people of faith are responding to ICE interference in the community. It hit me during the meeting that we don't often expect the churches to have financial resources at this point: I looked at the working-class, multigenerational and multiracial crowd sharing a meal at the church---several union members in the crowd---and felt the intersectionality of our people in a new way.

The Beyond Toxics event builds on the advice we got from Jo Ann Hardesty when she came to Salem: build with people of color and from the base up around issues which touch people's lives. For several generations now, since the Russian and Chinese revolutions, we have called this the "serve the people" model and ideology.

We're not in a situation now where we can afford to work separately or under white and male leadership or rely on liberal leaders. And if we hesitate or turn back, our opposition will take full advantage and try to turn it into a rout.

Do we really mean "The people, united, will never be divided!" when we chant this at rallies or not?


BEYOND TOXICS presentation in Salem on Saturday, April 29

Taller y Presentacion llevada por Beyond Toxics y organizada por Latinos Unidos Siempre, para dar informacio sobre pesticidas peligrosos.

Aprenda a protegerse y a su familia cuando este trabajando en el campo.

Aprenda sus derechos como trabajador/a agricola.

Evento gratis--- Comida incluida---- OPCIONAL: Comparta un platillo de cassa para el evento!!!

Saturday, April 29 at 11 AM - 3 PM
2921 Saddle Club St SE, Salem, OR

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Salem's March for Science is coming---And there are many other events taking place this week. Please join in!

Besides the March for Science next Saturday, April 22, there are many other important events taking place across the Mid-Willamette Valley. A few of these events are listed below. Please attend an event, pitch in and join an organization. 

March for Science
11:00 AM
State Capitol

Wednesday, Apr. 19, 5pm - 7pm: What is Rape Culture and How Do We Uphold It?

Oregon State Women's Center, 1700 SW Pioneer Place, Corvallis
Brave discussions surrounding rape culture, how it shows itself through media and society and an analysis of how we uphold it. Rape culture is pervasive but it is also important to take actions to dismantle it daily and imagine what a world without rape culture would look like.
FB event:

Wednesday, Apr. 19, 5:30pm: Cuban Dinner in support of Pastors for Peace
First United Methodist Church, Martha Room, 1165 NW Monroe Ave, Corvallis
Pastors for Peace staff member and seminary student Manolo De Los Santos will report on the state of US-Cuban relations and the effort to end US imperial designs on the island.
A Cuban style dinner of ropa vieja, frijoles y arroz (pulled beef, beans and rice, salad) will be followed by De Los Santos presentation.
All interested people are invited. The dinner is at no cost. Donations to Pastors for Peace will be accepted. The dinner is hosted by the Corvallis chapter of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.
Further information at Contact Mike Beilstein at 541 602 1007 or mikebeilstein[at] for details about the dinner.

Thursday, Apr. 20, 9:30am - 4:30pm: Rally for Health Care for All Oregon
State Capitol Bldg, 900 Court St NE, Salem
Tentative Schedule:
--9 a.m, to 4 p.m.: Registration and Legislative Packet pick up, Room 243 Oregon State Capitol
--9 a.m, to 4 p.m.: Legislative Visits (set visits with your Senator and Representative in advance.)
--Noon to 12:30 p.m.: Rally on the WEST Capitol steps (by the circle of state flags); wear t-shirts, bring signs and banners (no signs or banners allowed inside Capitol).
1 p.m.: Senate Committee on Health Care Hearing, Hearing Room E, (we will have scheduled individuals to testify).
We expect several hundred statewide HCAO activists carrying signs and banners while they listen to inspiring speakers at a noon West steps rally. There will also be the opportunity for you to organize visits with your legislators. There is nothing like sharing your personal story with your legislators to educate and move them on this issue!The hearing will be from 1:00 to 3:00 in Hearing Room E. It will consider the RAND report – an Oregon-commissioned report on financial costs of 4 types of systems: single-payer; a plan using public funds and commercial insurance; a plan involving a public as well as commercial insurance option; and the existing system. The hearing will also consider the single-payer bill universal health care SB1046 (formerly SB 631).
For more details about the rally and hearing, visit:

Thursday, Apr. 20, 6pm - 8pm: The Frontline is Everywhere: NoDAPL Resisting Grand Juries (Eugene)
2520 Harris St, Eugene, OR
The Frontlines are everywhere, from pipelines to courtrooms to prisons, building strong movement defense.
As extraction becomes the norm and the government ramps up its repression against those who stand in resistance, this workshop holds valuable information for those who struggle for Indigenous sovereignty, earth liberation and a future without oppression.
This two-hour workshop is open to all who have participated in the movement at Standing Rock; those who have supported the efforts on the ground from their homes and territories elsewhere; as well as all those who wish to continue fighting on the many frontlines that continue emerging across Turtle Island.
Hosted by The Civil Liberties Defense Center (, Eugene.
FB event:

Saturday, April 15, 2017

SOLIDARITY HAS NO BORDERS---Solidarity with Movimiento Cosecha, and a call to join the strike on May Day

A statement from Democratic Socialists of America (DSA):

May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day, celebrates workers of the world.

This year, on May 1st, Democratic Socialists of America stand in solidarity with Movimiento Cosecha, a nonviolent movement fighting for permanent protection, dignity, and respect for the millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Millions of workers around the world take to the streets to demand higher wages, better benefits and improved working conditions each year on May Day.

Labor and immigrant rights movements have become increasingly linked in this struggle as working people learn over and over again that when we are divided, we are weaker, but when we team up and unite in one struggle, we are stronger in standing up to bosses and the billionaire class.

Since 2001, American unions and immigrant rights activists have resurrected May 1 as a day of protest around both workers rights and immigrant rights.

The movement has been gaining momentum, enlisting more and more young immigrants and children of immigrants, called Dreamers, in the struggle for comprehensive immigration reform, which would bring many of the estimated 11 million living in the U.S. illegally out of the shadows.

Join the Cosecha Movement!/¡Únete Al Movimiento Cosecha!

Hit here to support and join the May Day strike.

Agitate, Educate, Organize! Power To The People!---A Look At Some Recent Protests, Actions And Organizing In Salem

Over the past two weeks we have seen a number of successful events in Salem which have the potential to help consolidate the opposition to Trump and build an alternative. We have also seen some less successful events which point out particular weaknesses and can serve as warning signs and to particular needs. It needs to be remembered that the U.S. bombings in Syria and Afghanistan and the possibility of an attack on North Korea and the ICE actions, the on-going police attacks against people of color and the violence directed against anti-Trump protesters point to a much more dangerous environment and show connections between imperialism in crisis and repression at home.

In the positive column we have local on-going work by Pedro Sosa and the Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition and local anti-ICE efforts. A partial schedule of Know Your Rights and Rapid Response Team trainings from these groups is as follows:

April 25 RRT training in Lebanon, OR
April 28th; KYR in Portland
May 3rd; KYR in Salem,
May 5th; KYR in Salem
May 6th: RRT Training in Polk County
May 17th: KYR at Clackamas Community College.
May 20th RRT training in Medford

Also in the positive column are the recent demonstration against Oregonians For Immigration Reform (OFIR), today's demo demanding that Trump release his tax returns, the lobby day and march and rally supporting HB 2004 and tenant's rights, the Jo Ann Hardesty talk organized by Salem and the forum on the school board elections organized by Progressive Salem.

I think that successful events happen here when people of color and women lead, when capable people do the organizing, when we are in sync with national and regional actions, when we have good speakers and when we have candidates who really are different than the oatmeal offered by the centrists or the hardtack thrown at us by the Republicans.

The demo against OFIR was small, but it was a coalition effort which came together quickly and which aimed (successfully) at bothering OFIR. The left really showed our stuff last Wednesday when people lobbied and rallied for HB 2004; the success was in identifying an issue to win on, mobilizing people, building a coalition, having labor support and having women and people of color leading. The Jo Ann Hardesty talk gave us some theory and ideas on how to test theories on organizing.

The Progressive Salem school board elections forum featured Kathleen Harder, Sherrone Blasi and Levi Herrrera-Lopez. I went prepared to support Levi Herrera-Lopez and Sherrone Blasi, and curious to know more about Kathleen Harder. Harder won me over, and Herrera-Lopez has the vision needed and a sense of forward movement and innovative possibilities, but Blasi disappointed me when she went to old-school (no pun intended) solutions like truant officers and fines to insure school attendance. On the other hand, she has needed skills in measuring achievements and progress which liberals usually lack. The three candidates get the structural disparities which hold kids back here in Salem. The forum ended before we could hear their views on testing and grappling with a state budget in crisis. Progressive Salem remains rather top-down and formal, and it remains to be seen if they can move Salem and Marion County Democrats in a more positive direction and ally with others to the left.

Perhaps that takes us to the negative column. There was a tiny antiwar demo downtown after the bombing in Syria while there is good reason to believe that there is either mass opposition to that bombing and the bombing in Afghanistan or, at least, great unease over it. The U.S. lacks an antiwar movement, a casualty of the Obama years and centrist Democratic Party influences, and the left isn't giving to the people what is needed---a center for real and needed united protest. We're great on tenant's rights, environmental justice and local political races---and we're working on being better allies with people of color struggles---but we have not yet fully taken in a "serve the people" ethos and actions. People in the U.S. deserve an antiwar/anti-imperialist movement which doesn't make support or opposition to Assad and the North Korean leadership a condition of joining. What is more important to us in immediate terms is that an antiwar/anti-imperialist effort block the ascendancy of the most pro-war forces and the Democrats who enable them. The antiwar action in Salem should have drawn hundreds or thousands.

We have some opportunities to get it right. There is the April 22 March for Science, May Day and a lobby day for healthy kids (regardless of immigration status) coming up. Causa is doing fundraising and there is an upcoming fundraiser for DACA youth scholarships. Fundraising means long-term stability and on-going strategies for social change. Winning on healthy kids means a step towards turning the anti-immigrant tide. April 22 means gathering in the anti-Trump forces. May Day means that we have a day as the working-class and as the left to support immigrants, immigrant rights and broad demands for social change. This May Day will be a test for all of us: does opposing Trump mean more to you than going to work or school?

Join us at the State Capitol on Monday, May 1 at 11:30.  

Let's not stop at critiquing what exists and either supporting or not supporting what's happening. What about holding a community forum on strategy and tactics and debating the issues? What about moving more of our meetings and actions into northeast Salem and east of Lancaster? What about forming a Salem Tenants Union or working to block gentrification on Portland Road? What about forming a collective working on accompanying people to immigration and related legal hearings? What about forming committees of medical workers, legal workers and people of faith to do serve-the-people work? What about a large socialist political organization, or an alliance of radical groups? What about insisting that every effort be led by people of color, women and LGBTQIA+ people or have real solidarity with women, LGBTQIA+ people and people of color built in to their strategies and tactics? 

Fight Trump With Socialism---Support Philly Socialists And Help Us Build A Socialist Movement Together

The following comes from Philly Socialists, a group which increasingly models what real socialist organizing can look like today. They need money. Please chip in to help out. Their model may translate into national organizing, and this is greatly needed here in Oregon. Many people here will identify with their values, and if these values are yours then please donate to Philly Socialists and join Oregon Socialist Renewal as well.

A statement from Philly Socialists says:

Hopeless. That's how many of us felt after the election. Then we collectively asked the question: what can we do?

As for Philly Socialists, we doubled down on our work. We doubled our membership, expanded our "Serve the People, Fight the Power" projects and kicked our protest organizing into high gear.

All with the end goal of dismantling a system that privileges profit over people and is built upon entrenched racism, sexism, homophobia, chauvinistic nationalism, and imperialism.

And now there is one more thing we all can do: make a contribution to the movement Philly Socialists is building.

With your help, we can take our work to the next level. We're talking national organizing, a physical office space, and more!

We have never needed a viable alternative on the left more and we have never needed your contribution more. 

The text below comes from Philly Socialists but has been edited.

A community-based socialist group

Philly Socialists was founded in 2011 by a handful of individuals who felt a pressing need to build a left alternative to fight for progressive, intersectional and working class values.

Our unique model focuses on community organizing, fighting the power and serving the people under an explicitly socialist banner, to build a social base committed to revolutionary change.

Where renters in our city wanted to fight greedy slumlords, we helped build a citywide Tenants Union. Where immigrants were prevented from seeking out educational opportunities, we organized free English classes. Where trash-filled, vacant lots stood, we met with our neighbors and built community gardens. None of this would have been possible without the generous financial support of our sympathizers in Philadelphia and beyond.
A moment of danger, and resistance

Since the Trump administration came to power in January, we've seen an escalation in attacks on our communities. At the same time, progressive and working class Americans are mobilizing as never before. We are protesting, we are resisting, but we are also looking for a way forward, a way to build a better society than what has come before us.

We believe Philly Socialists offers that way forward, and we have the track record to prove it!

What we've been able to accomplish with your help

Today, Philly Socialists is asking for your help once again. We have a series of ambitious initiatives, which we truly believe can help bring coherence, direction, and organization to our movement. But we need your support to make this happen.

With your support, here's what we plan to do next

We have big plans for 2017! Here's a taste of some of what we have in the works...

Opening a brick-and-mortar office in Philadelphia to house our growing operations: Our small group has more than doubled in size since last year, outpacing our ability to provide meeting space, printing, and other logistical support to our numerous new political initiatives.

Releasing a free, full-color monthly newspaper - The Philadelphia Partisan: This popular effort has been test-run for three issues. An incisive blend of theory, hyper-local reporting, poetry and art, hundreds of copies of The Partisan have been distributed in poor and working class neighborhoods. With your support, we aim to double the amount of copies we make available and distribute them throughout the city, as well as take on more ambitious journalistic and publishing endeavors such as investigative reporting into local corruption.

A national conference: In coordination with several other groups nationally, Philly Socialists is planning a nationwide conference to network with other ideologically-pluralist, project-based socialist groups, to be held over the weekend of August 4th-6th. The conference hopes to facilitate steps toward unifying the "base-building" trend within the socialist movement, which in turn will promote left unity across the socialist movement.

You can be a part of this movement

If we raise $5,000, we can fund publication of the Philadelphia Partisan for one year.
If we raise $10,000, we will be able to host a national conference of locally-based, ideologically pluralist, project-based socialist organizations.
If we raise $15,000, we will be able to host monthly RED Talks, bringing the sharpest speakers on the left to Philadelphia, and broadcast their talks over the internet.
If we raise $20,000, we will be able to open up an office to house our expanding operations.

Your generosity and belief in us are much appreciated. These perks are our way of saying "thanks, really!!"

From the essay "Globalization and the End of the Labor Aristocracy" by Jayati Ghosh

The essay "Globalization and the End of the Labor Aristocracy" by Jayati Ghosh in Dollars and Sense defines some basic terms and discusses the reality of globalization. The essay also argues for "new and more relevant economic models of socialism to be developed," a position which is problematic and not well thought out. The entire essay can be found here. It is a good place to begin discussions. Here is a section of the essay which might help people get the flavor of Ghosh's views,

Defining imperialism broadly, as Lenin did—as the complex intermingling of economic and political interests, related to the efforts of large capital to control economic territory—it’s clear that imperialism has not really declined at all. Rather, it has changed in form over the past half century, especially when we embrace a more expansive notion of what constitutes “economic territory.” Economic territory includes the more obvious forms such as land and natural resources, as well as labor. These are all still hugely contested: The wars for oil in the Middle East, the continuing attempts at land grabs in Africa, and the struggle over the fruits of extraction of natural resources in parts of Latin America and Asia all testify to this.

But the struggle over economic territory also encompasses the search for and effort to control new markets—defined by both physical location and type of economic process. Understanding territory in this way helps us understand how imperialism is still very much alive and kicking, even though some of the more classic features (such as direct colonial control and annexations) are less in evidence.

One of the key aspects of recent capitalist dynamism has been its ability to create new forms of economic territory, bring them within the realm of capitalist economic relations, and therefore also subject them to imperialist control. Two forms of economic territory that are increasingly subject to capitalist organization and imperialist penetration today are 1) basic amenities and social services (earlier seen as the sole preserve of public provision) and 2) the generation and distribution of knowledge. A major feature of our times is the privatization of areas that, until recently, were generally accepted as public responsibilities. Basic amenities like electricity, water, and transportation infrastructure, and social services like health, sanitation, and education all fall into this category. Of course, the fact that these were seen as public duties does not mean that they were always fulfilled. Indeed, expanding public provision and access to high-quality public infrastructure and social services has only come about historically as the result of prolonged mass struggles. And issues of inequality in access have always existed. Nevertheless, the fact that provision is no longer necessarily in the public domain, and that private provision is increasingly seen as the norm, has opened up huge new markets for potentially profit-making activity. This has been a crucial way of maintaining demand, given the saturation of markets in many mature economies, and the inadequate growth of markets in poorer societies.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

We got our letter from Tom McCabe of the Freedom Foundation and...

Are you a state, county or municipal worker? Did you get a fancy anti-union hit piece aimed at your union from the Freedom Foundation and the evidently well-fed and somewhat-out-of-it Tom McCabe in the mail last week? We got ours.

The letter from the Freedom Foundation CEO is inflammatory from start to finish. There is plenty of venting about "radical liberal extremists" and the left, shots taken at Governor Brown, and (of course) "government employee unions. The real targets of the mailing are public employee unions and the work done by their members. The real purposes of the mailing are to add to the shrill whining of the ultra-right and to assure Mr. McCabe of a bright future and a large bank account.

Let's be clear about a few facts and lines of argument here.

Increases in taxes have nothing to do with public employee wages and benefits. The State and local bodies have many options when they negotiate with the public worker unions, and the state budget is not created solely out of tax dollars. So let's take the equation that says that higher wages and better benefits for public employees mean higher taxes off the table; it just isn't true.

Let's also come to grips with the fact that public employee wages and benefits create wealth for Oregon as money circulates. This is particularly true in the smaller and medium-sized areas.

Let's come to grips with the facts that workers deserve a living wage, public employees often make less in wages than private sector workers in the northwest, public employment and public works projects often provides the necessary juice needed for our region's economy, government often hires people from underserved communities and thrives when it makes full use of their talents, and the democratic right to organize a union and bargain collectively can set a pace for other workers and uphold at least the form of democracy. The Freedom Foundation and Mr. McCabe are attacking every working person in Oregon when they attack public employee unions. Their attack is aimed particularly at people of color, women, the disabled and older workers.

Let's come to grips with Mr. McCabe's evident hate for government. His game plan is clear: this is about undermining government, privatizing services, lowering wages and standards of living, creating a situation where schools become conduits for corporations and the military, environmental and workplace safety regulations are thrown out, and more police and prisons are built and even fewer social services are provided. Scratch the surface and the Freedom Foundation is a front group for a wing of the Republican Party. This is about creating a stampede to the doors as people are driven to fight for the best deals that they can get as individuals. This is most certainly not about building communities, providing social services and a needed hand up, peaceful relations, critical thinking, community control, environmental justice and overcoming racism and the fears and phobias which hold so many people back.

In a capitalist society with a social compact the taxes we pay are the cost of civilization. In other words, we pay taxes so that we have schools, roads, protections, the enforcement of laws, mediated relationships (courts, city councils, representative bodies), checks on power and some means of redress when things go wrong. Mr. McCabe & Co. are good with capitalism, but they don't like the idea of a social compact or anything which requires negotiation and acknowledgement of inequality. They are directing their anger at public workers, but they have an agenda which goes well beyond smashing unions.

Should workers have to pay an agency fee or join a union? Well, workers should be won over to the cause of unionism by unions. We should want to join a union and make it ours. We should have our hands on the wheel of anything which involves our wages, hours of work, working conditions, benefits and retirement options. The strongest unions will be the ones which are most democratic, most inclusive, most member-run, most militant and most willing to bring every working person in and give them a home. Who wouldn't join a union under those conditions?

Under the current system, however, unions are not on an equal playing field with the bosses, and each side depends on its resources to fight the other. Why? Because there is a basic disagreement between bosses and workers: bosses want more and more and workers have to organize to hold on to what we have and do better. The bosses come to this with all of the political power and the greatest share of wealth. We come to this with one another. So, yes, if  I'm helping you do better, and if you're not stepping up to help, then you need to kick in something to help me help both of us. Union dues and agency fees are the cost of civilization at work.

The mailing from the Freedom Foundation arrived as SEIU Local 503 members were voting on corporate status, no doubt confusing many people. That vote was triggered by a few folks who don't share the values of collective action for social justice and who pose as union reformers. Their agenda seems to parallel that of the Freedom Foundation. The union leadership, on the other hand, does not root themselves as firmly as they should in the union's membership, appointed union leadership is often out of touch and tone deaf when it comes to members' needs, most people do not understand the union's membership application when they join, the leadership views membership as "market share," and union staff have too big a role in determining the union's agenda. Dysfunctional dynamics on the four sides---the bureaucratic union leadership, the divided union membership, the avaricious employers and the far-right and anti-worker Freedom Foundation---prevents a needed and hard conversation among union members about union democracy and the need to have a principled union deeply involved in class struggle politics. Dysfunction will stop when a group of progressive union members organizes independently for a democratic and class-struggle union and wins leadership on the basis of that program. The possibility of that happening terrifies the Freedom Foundation.

The mailing also came as a far-right racist group hosted presentations in Salem by Jessica Vaughn, a representative of a white nationalist, eugenics-supporting hate group. The mailing and the Vaughn presentations provides a full-court press by the far-right against social progress; one targets union members and one targets people of color. Our enemies are united. Are we united in our resistance?  

Mr. McCabe & Co. intentionally distorts the left's agenda. What part of peace, rights, environmental justice, social protections and equality are they against exactly? That is the left agenda, in broad terms. It is not the liberal agenda of Kate Brown or of the union leadership or the Democrats, although social solidarity demands that everyone who wants to put people and nature before profits be in the same tent.

And here is the challenge: will Mr. McCabe & Co. be forthcoming about the real source of their funding, spell out in detail what their real agenda is, publicly disclose the names of the union members they claim to be working with, stop the bait-and-switch game of mixing up liberals and the Governor and the left, and stop using tactics which are geared to intimidation and threats?

McCabe & Co. have your name and address and they will continue to bother you unless we push back. What's the solution? Reject fear, division and hatred and organize for justice.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Jo Ann Hardesty Spoke in Salem on Race & Climate Justice---Watch her great talk here

An emergency call-out from Portland Jobs with Justice for tomorrow, Wednesday, April 12

We've got great news... If you haven't already heard, HB 2004 and it's vital tenant protections passed the Oregon House and is on to the state Senate!

However, It is still uncertain if there are enough votes in the Oregon Senate to pass the bill and win those vital tenant protections like an end to no-cause evictions and the ability to enact rent stabilization policies.

That means it's time to turn up the heat! 
It's time to flood the capitol!

Tomorrow, Wednesday April 12 from 10am-5pm join Stable Homes for Oregon Families and Community Alliance of Tenants in Salem, OR to tell our legislators that no cause evictions and excessive rent increases must end!

10am: Lobby training
12pm: Rally and March for Tenant rights
1pm: Lobby Senators for tenant rights

Click Here to Register Now!
Free food, childcare, transportation, and interpretation.

Regístrese hoy en Español
GRATIS comida, cuidado de niños, transporte e interpretación.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Donald Trump and the Working Class: How We Got Here and How to Respond---Thursday, April 27 at 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM----Portland

Portland Democratic Socialists of America presents:

"Donald Trump and the Working Class: How We Got Here and How to Respond"

How on earth did this comically garish capitalist get elected President of the United States? Did he really win by gaining the support of the white working class? Did anyone really believe this gaudy fat-cat would be a voice for working Americans? What should the Left do now that he’s in office?

Join the Portland, OR chapter of Democratic Socialists of America as we host a conversation between local and prolific journalist Arun Gupta and University of Oregon professor Joe Lowndes.

Arun Gupta reports nationwide on politics, the economy, labor, food, immigration, the environment, and social movements on the left and right for publications including The Nation, YES Magazine, The Progressive, In These Times, the Raw Story, Telesur, the Guardian, and the Washington Post. He is a founder of the Occupied Wall Street Journal, former international news editor of The Guardian Newsweekly, and a Lannan Foundation writing fellow. He is writing a book, Bacon as a Weapon of Mass Destruction: A Junk-Food Loving Chef's Inquiry Into Taste, for The New Press.

Joe Lowndes is an associate professor of political science at the University of Oregon, where he studies right-wing movements, populism, and racial politics. He has been active for three decades in activism in antiracist, green, and labor politics. He is a member of AFT Oregon, AAUP Oregon, and is on the executive council of local 3209, United Academics. He is the author of From the New Deal to the New Right: Race and the Southern Origins of Modern Conservatism, and co-editor of Race and American Political Development. He is currently writing a book on Right-wing populism in the US.

Bring cash to donate $5-$10 at the door. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Thursday, April 27 at 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
SEIU Local 49
3536 SE 26th Ave, Portland

Protect First Amendment Rights In Oregon---Oppose Oregon Legislature: Bills: SCR25, SM1, and SJM9.

The following letter is circulating:

Dear Oregonians and Supporters of Human Rights and Free Speech,

We are a diverse group of concerned Oregonians, Palestinian rights activists, and defenders of our First Amendment Rights. We ask that you join us in acting together to condemn and defeat several bills introduced recently in the Oregon Legislature: Bills: SCR25, SM1, and SJM9. This legislation attacks United Nations efforts to oppose illegal settlements on Palestinian land, and attempts to put an end to an increasingly effective campaign in support of human rights and international law in Palestine-Israel.

Please share this email widely. Thank you!

Below are descriptions of each bill, all currently in the Committee on Rules where it will be decided whether or not to send them to the floor for a vote. Contact information is provided below to make it easy for you to call and/or write to the OR Legislature, Committee on Rules. Please let them know you oppose these troubling and misguided bills. They must be defeated! Talking points are provided below.

Bill SCR25 - condemns the non-violent movement of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). BDS is a movement answering the call of Palestinian civil society against Israel's ongoing violations of human rights. The movement works to end international support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians and seeks to pressure Israel to comply with international law. If passed, this bill will have a chilling effect on criticism of Israel's human rights abuses; it could serve as a basis for other, more extreme bills such as have been introduced and passed in a number of other states. For more details about SCR25 see:

Bills SM1 and SJM9 are in opposition to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 which passed unanimously with only one abstention from the Obama administration. The UN resolution properly condemned Israel's ongoing and rapidly expanding settlement activity on Palestinian lands in support of international law and in support of longstanding U.S. policy that is opposed to Israeli settlements. You can read more at: and

Action: Please call and write the Senators of the Senate Committee On Rules and our own OR Senators so they know that opposition to these bills is widespread and growing. See the contact information below or use the link above.

For more information about anti-BDS legislation across the country, including fact sheets see:

Talking points for SCR25, the anti-Boycott bill:

Boycotts are a protected form of free speech. Bills like this WILL be struck down in the Supreme Court, but only after states that pass anti-BDS bill have wasted taxpayer money defending the bills in court.

This is a waste of time for the legislators, who should focus their valuable time and energy addressing issues of REAL concern to Oregonians.

Boycott is a highly revered, time honored, non-violent part of our national heritage: The Montgomery bus boycott; boycott of South African apartheid; grape boycott to support farm workers from unfair labor practice; Boycotts of non-union shops to support workers’ right to organize. Boycott is a means to effect change when governments and corporations refuse to act.

In this increasingly repressive political climate under the Trump Administration, this bill would set a dangerous precedent, as it constitutes a first step towards undermining and preventing principled non-violent activism of concerned Oregon citizens.

The State of Oregon recognized the value of BDS activism when it sanctioned companies from doing business with Sudan because of human rights violations in Darfur.

The City of Portland recognized the value of BDS activism when it divested from the companies in the Fossil Fuel 200 and Walmart.

Legislation against boycotts and divestment threatens religious freedom. Many religious groups take seriously the ethics concerning their investments, and have clear religious and ethical guidelines regarding acceptable and unacceptable ways to use money. MANY mainline Christian denominations have, after much prayer and study, voted in favor of practicing some form of boycott, divestment or sanctions. Does the senator/representative really want to sign a bill that demonize these mainline denominations for taking these moral stands? (see below for a list)

The policies of any country should be held to account for violations of human rights and international law. Israel should not be given an exception in order to protect it from accountability.

There is significant and increasing Jewish support for the Palestinian call for BDS. Jewish Voice for Peace is one of the fastest growing Jewish organizations in the country. Israel's 50-year military occupation does not represent their values; they, too, are calling for boycotts, divestment, and governmental sanctions. See the recent statement, signed by over seventy-five members of Portland’s Jewish community in support of this kind of effort in the Portland City Council:

These bills are replete with demonstrably false and highly debatable information, thus making those who sign it guilty of perpetrating the very sorts of "alternative facts" which are increasingly undermining public respect for government.

The proposed legislation is a blatant attempt to pass extreme and un-democratic legislation on behalf of right-wing Israeli and American Jews and American right-wing Christians and others. Giving legitimacy to these positions would be a frontal assault on freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Talking Points for SM1 and SJM9:

These bills are an assault on International Humanitarian law such as the Fourth Geneva Conventions which prohibit the taking and colonizing other people's land.

Israeli settlements are a major obstacle to peace, an assault on human rights, and are destructive to any peaceful resolution to the conflict. They are in violation of humanitarian international law and in opposition to US policy. (US policy has been consistent on this and in accord with international law since the 1967 war.)

Israel has greatly expanded construction of illegal settlements on Palestinian land. Just this week, the Israeli government announced yet another settlement to compensate settlers for “losing” land they literally stole from a Palestinian. See:

Israel has greatly expanded its destruction of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and even in Israel itself.

Ban Ki-moon calls Israeli settlement expansion an 'affront' to the world. See:

Human Rights Watch calls on businesses to cease Israeli settlement-related activities. See
Does the Oregon Legislature really want to insult and alienate Oregonians, constituents who place high value on our First Amendment right to boycott?

The following religious organizations have voted to boycott, divest or advocate for government sanctions in support of the human rights of Palestinians: Presbyterian Church U.S.A.; United Methodist Church; United Church of Christ; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Unitarian Universalist Association; Alliance of Baptists; Mennonite Central Committee; American Friends Service Committee; Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation; Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men; National Coalition of American Nuns; and Roman Catholic Pax Christi. Other religious denominations, including The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Mennonite Church USA, are also considering resolutions in support of BDS at their national assemblies this year.

ACTION: Contact the members of the Senate Committee on Rules:
Rules Committee members:
Chair: Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick (D) District 18 - Portland

Vice-Chair: Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli (R) District 30 - John Day

Member: Senator Lee Beyer (D) District 6 - Springfield

Member: Senator Brian Boquist (R) District 12 - Dallas, Oregon

Member: Senator Arnie Roblan (D) District 5 - Coos Bay

ACTION: Find your own State of Oregon representatives here:

Thank you for taking action!

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National Legislation (for your information):

US Congress - US Senate bi-partisan bill S 170

Combating BDS ACT 2017-2018 To provide for non-preemption of measures by State and local governments to divest from entities that engage in commerce-related or investment-related boycott, divestment, or sanctions activities targeting Israel, and for other purposes.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a State or local government may adopt and enforce measures that meet the requirements of subsection (b) to divest the assets of the State or local government from, prohibit investment of the assets of the State or local government in, or restrict contracting by the State or local government for goods and services …

Text of S 170:
Sponsors: 12 Democrats and 20 Republicans; including OR Sen. Wyden;

If this passes, it will be challenged in the courts and will result in a civil rights case - First Amendment rights, US Constitution. Our right to participate in BDS was upheld by the US Supreme Court in 1982, NAACP vs Clairborn Hardware.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

No Way To Treat A Child---Palestinian Rights Activist Thomas Beilman speaks in Corvallis on Wednesday, April 12

Three views on the situation in Syria and a statement from the Syrian Communist Party

Below are three views on the situation in Syria which reflect disagreements on the left. The first statement comes from the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the second from the Communist Party (CPUSA) and the third comes from the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). I am aware that there are many more left organizations out there with other views, but I think that in broad terms these three positions are the primary lines found on much of the left and are starting points for debate. The main weaknesses in these positions are that we are making this about Assad, we are neglecting or refusing to support the revolution in Rojava, we are coming up short when it comes to foreign policy, we lack a strong anti-imperialist analysis, we're not organizing an antiwar or peace movement, and we're risking falling into what used to be called "big power chauvinism." A statement from the Politbureau of Syrian Communist Party is included here. No statement frrom Kurdish forces is yet available in English

A Statement of the National Political Committee of Democratic Socialists of America

April 8, 2017

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has consistently opposed U.S. military intervention in the civil war in Syria and condemns the Tomahawk cruise missile attack by the Trump administration. DSA has also supported from spring 2011 onwards the massive and democratic Syrian uprising against the brutal Assad regime, a regime that has shown no hesitation to use massive force, including chemical weapons, to suppress its people.

The Trump administration has committed an act of war that both violates domestic law (having not been authorized by Congress) and international law (having not been authorized by the United Nations). Foreign power intervention, however, whether by Russia, the United States, Iran or the Gulf States, has only served to militarize the conflict and severely weaken the democratic forces within Syria. As illustrated by the futile U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, United States imperialist and unilateral military power cannot liberate the Syrian people. U.S. air power cannot surgically take out those individuals who develop and deploy chemical weapons; what it has done and will do is kill scores of innocent civilians.

Therefore, we urge our members and friends to protest the Trump administration’s military action and to lobby Congress to halt any further U.S. military intervention. We urge our members and friends to protest all bombings of Syrians and the war waged by the Assad regime through foreign forces against the people of Syria. The U.S. coalition and Russia have been actively bombing Syria for years, as documented by, in effect both siding with the regime, allegedly to fight ISIS (while the context of massive pro-regime violence is the fertile soil on which ISIS has grown). The Trump Tomahawk cruise missile strike continues a long-standing U.S. policy of bombing Syria, which is why Secretary of State Tillerson can state that these attacks are in accord with ongoing U.S. policy.

In opposing all foreign military intervention in Syria we act to end the mass slaughter of civilians and to honor the memory of those civilians who fought for freedom, a fight that might have been won if not for the militarization of the conflict by the Assad regime and by U.S. and other foreign powers. As abhorrent as the use of chemical weapons may be, DSA opposes all forms of mass violence against civilians, including the U.S. bombing of mosques.

The United States should join the international community in condemning the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons and press for a return of United Nations inspectors to monitor the regime’s chemical weapons capacity. The United States must also immediately reverse its policy opposing the intake of Syrian refugees and grant refugee status to at least one hundred thousand Syrian asylum seekers (of all faiths) and challenge the European Union nations to take in proportionate numbers. It is the ultimate hypocrisy to bomb a country while refusing to give shelter to refugees from a carnage to which many foreign powers, including the United States, have contributed.

Furthermore, the United States should join the international community in providing massive humanitarian aid to the millions of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey and elsewhere. The United States and all other countries should engage in the necessary diplomacy to press Russia, Iran and Hezbollah to cease their military aid to the Assad dictatorship, as well as end United States and Gulf State funding of internal Syrian combatants. The Syrian people alone can liberate themselves; the task cannot be accomplished by external powers.

Trump: Stop bombing Syria, stop the deadly war for oil---A People's World editorial

For nearly a century powerful oil companies based in the U.S. and other Western countries have waged a continual struggle to maintain control over the vast energy resources of the Middle East. What Donald Trump did last night was only the latest in that continuing campaign.

He launched an unconstitutional and illegal attack on another sovereign nation, Syria. The president claimed the missile attack, unauthorized by Congress, was conducted in response to a chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians several days earlier.

We agree with Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee who declared right after the attack that it was an act of war and that Congress should come back from its latest spring vacation and do its duty – hold a debate. “Anything less,” Lee said, “is an abdication of our responsibility.”

Millions were justifiably horrified upon seeing pictures of children burned, gasping for breath, and dying after exposure to the chemical weapons. Trump moved fast to make those scenes Part I of a nicely scripted TV show. Part II was footage taken by the Pentagon itself last night of its launching, one by one, of 60 missiles from the deck of a warship off the coast of Syria. “Beautiful, awesome,” said MSNBC’s Brian Williams. Part III of the narrative came with a national appearance on TV by Caesar himself, Donald Trump, claiming victory by saying essentially, “Veni, vidi, vici” – I came I saw, I conquered.

Made for TV. Made for domestic consumption. Made to silence critics of his involvement with Russian oligarchs. Made to split and weaken the resistance to his policies. But most important, made to keep people ignorant of what is really going on in the Middle East – an endless deadly war for oil.

Trump’s show does nothing to explain this cause of the century-old and continually unfolding disaster in the Middle East. The deaths of those children last week were preceded by the deaths of millions of others in the never-ending war for oil. Thousands died in Mosul, Iraq in the weeks before the latest chemical attack. A half million died in Syria’s civil war before that and a million in Iraq before that. The war for oil claimed hundreds of thousands apiece in Iran, Libya, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Egypt, Palestine, and other countries before it claimed the million in Iraq.

Mass killings of progressives, socialists, communists, secular liberals and others often followed the toppling of elected progressive governments and the replacement of them with U.S.-backed autocrats and dictators beholden to the big oil companies. All over the region it has left the people today with two awful choices: An autocratic murderous dictator or rule by dangerous religious fanatics. The progressive, left secular alternatives were always wiped out and today rebuilding them will be a difficult if not impossible task in some places.

There have been different approaches and tactics used to maintain control over the region’s oil resources. President Bush, for example, supported unilateral military action and regime change as he did in Iraq. President Obama eventually moved away from regime change and, along with allies, used carrot and stick diplomacy to alternately engage or punish certain countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt. Although the Obama approach allowed U.S. troops to come home and, with the help of Russia, yielded an Iran nuclear deal, its overall aim was the same – control over the oil resources of the region.

People from parties that disagree on all kinds of things often agree on the Mideast. Only a day before Trump attacked Syria, for example, Hillary Clinton said she would “take out Syrian airfields” if she were president.

Lack of understanding about the underlying cause of the mess in the Middle East – the war for oil – is unfortunately allowing some of the leaders and participants in the Resistance to Trump to fall into a trap he has set for them – a trap designed to split that very resistance itself.

Jumping on the war for oil bandwagon, New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer says it was the right thing to do. A joint statement by Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham, supposedly “reasonable” Republicans, congratulated Trump, essentially for “coming to his senses.”

“Building on this credible first step we must learn the lesson of history,” they said.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who in his role on the House Intelligence Committee has become almost a hero of the Resistance, said he backs the bombing and would work for congressional authorization of additional bombing.

On liberal MSNBC last night, guest after guest praised Trump for his “decisiveness.”

The People’s World, on the other hand, says there should be an end to the war for oil. Far too many have died in the Middle East for far too many decades and none of it has done any good for the vast majority of Americans, thousands of whom have also died fighting in that region.

The People’s World will never join the chorus of folks in the major media who think the main issues are when Trump will become “presidential,” and the status of the latest split in the White House. Our main concern, unlike the major media when it discusses the bombing, is not whether Ivanka and Jared hold sway or whether Bannon or Reince Priebus are calling the shots in the White House.

Our concern is exposing and stopping once and for all the endless war for oil. Our concern is to keep the resistance against the Trump agenda united. Our concern is how to take the trillions spent on the war for oil and divert it into meeting the needs of the American people.

All those in the West Wing care not an iota about this and are betraying the promises Trump made to the American people on jobs, healthcare, and everything else. All of them favor continuing the deadly Middle East strategy of control over that region’s resources by the fossil fuel moguls who back Trump.

We pledge to be a voice for all those who see through this deadly game and for all of those building the movement to end it, once and for all.

The USA role and the bombings in Syria--From the WFTU Secretariat

It is known all over the world that the USA, the European Union, Turkey and the Gulf monarchies have founded, financed and armed the ISIS. Their goal was dismembering Syria and founding new puppet states in order to steal the region’s wealth.

Today, with the USA bombings against Syria, the government of Trump continues the policy of the previous Presidents. Through these bombings, it supports the ISIS. It makes the situation even more dangerous for a generalized war.

The class-oriented trade union movement demands:

– The foreign troops to leave the Region

– To stop the imperialist intervention against Syria and the whole Middle East

– The wealth-producing resources of Syria belong to its people.

– The peoples of the Region are the only ones who have the right to decide freely and democratically on their present and future.

– to stop chemical weapons use by everybody

Statement from the Politbureau of Syrian Communist Party on the American imperialist aggression against Syria 

Shame and shame of the American aggression

Statement of the Syrian Communist Party

On the morning of April 7, 2017, US forces from their ships in the eastern Mediterranean fired a massive missile strike at a Syrian military post.

This attack is a new step from the American imperialist aggression on our homeland Syria, which was preceded by the landing of American military units in the north-east of our country without any accepted justification in international law. This aggression is an embodiment of the general approach adopted by American imperialism in the attack on the sovereignty of states and the freedom of peoples, in order to achieve the permanent expansionist means, which is a form of imperialism.

This aggressive step comes in the context of imperialist and Zionist policy aimed at the depletion and division of Syria, which is a steadfast fortress in the face of total colonial domination over the Eastern Mediterranean and the Arab world in general.

The blatant American aggression against Syria dispels all illusions about the possibility of neutralizing America. American imperialism is the basic enemy of the freedom of peoples, including our Syrian people. America is the largest international terrorist in the world.

The Syrian Communist Party calls upon the masses of our proud people to close ranks more and more in the face of the imperialist aggression and to provide all support to our brave national army in its fierce battle against the aggressors and their accomplices from terrorist gangs.

The Syrian Communist Party goes to the world progressive public opinion, to all the progressive and democratic forces, to the free world, in a call to denounce the American imperialist aggression on Syria and increase their solidarity with the Syrian national steadfastness that contributes effectively to the struggle of global liberation forces against imperialism and imperialism.

Long live the Syrian national steadfastness!

Syria will not kneel!

Damascus, April 7, 2017

Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Syrian Communist Party